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Complex syntax in children with hearing loss (Werfel et al., 2021)

posted on 01.03.2021, 23:13 by Krystal L. Werfel, Gabriella Reynolds, Sarah Hudgins, Marissa Castaldo, Emily A. Lund
Purpose: Proficiency with complex syntax is important for language and reading comprehension, and production of complex syntax begins to emerge shortly after a young child begins using two-word combinations. Complex syntax production in preschool children with hearing loss who use spoken language has been explored minimally. The purpose of this study was to compare complex syntax production of 4-year-old children with hearing loss to age-matched and language-matched peers with normal hearing.
Method: Seventy-two children completed a language assessment battery, including a structured language sample. Complex syntax density and number and accuracy of productions of particular types of complex syntax were compared across three groups: 4-year-old children with hearing loss, an age-matched group of children with normal hearing, and an mean length of utterance (MLU)–matched group of children with normal hearing.
Results: Children with hearing loss had lower complex syntax density and fewer correct productions of coordinated clauses, subordinate clauses, and simple infinitives than their age-matched, but not language-matched, peers. Furthermore, children with hearing loss had lower accuracy than the age-matched group on simple infinitives and lower accuracy than both the age- and MLU-matched groups on full propositional complements and subject relative clauses.
Conclusion: Children with hearing loss exhibit delays in complex syntax acquisition as compared to their same-age peers and disruptions in development on some complex structures as compared to MLU-matched, younger children.

Supplemental Material S1. Number correct production of specific types of complex syntax by group.

Supplemental Material S2. Percent correct production of specific types of complex syntax by group.

Werfel, K. L., Reynolds, G., Hudgins, D., Castaldo, M., & Lund, E. A. (2021). The production of complex syntax in spontaneous language by 4-year-old children with hearing loss. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00178


The work reported herein was funded by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R03DC014535 to Krystal L. Werfel; R01DC017173 to Krystal L. Werfel and Emily A. Lund).